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Transportation Planning for the Future: Iowa DOT


Our Client’s Challenge

At a crossroads in America’s heartland, the Iowa Department of Transportation (Iowa DOT) faces a plethora of transportation responsibilities, challenges, and opportunities related to moving people and goods. Specific challenges include: improving safety, stewardship, resilience, equity, climate change, land use, economic development, and others.

In 2020, Iowa DOT turned to Gannett Fleming to develop a new strategic plan. Our planning team worked with Iowa DOT to evaluate the current plan, meet with stakeholders, identify key metrics, and create a holistic, actionable plan for the department’s future.

For Iowa DOT, the advantage of using Gannett Fleming as a strategic planner to facilitate their plan was our extensive expertise in transportation planning. Gannett Fleming was already a trusted partner of Iowa DOT, having worked with the agency on numerous planning and engineering projects over the previous decade.

Capitalizing on our expertise in integrated risk management, asset management, resiliency planning, and financial modeling, developing a five-year strategic plan encompassing the entire agency was a win-win for both partners.

Our Solution

The goal of the new Iowa DOT strategic planning initiative was to guide leadership through the redevelopment of strategic direction, develop a detailed business plan, and provide a transformation roadmap for alignment, communication, change, and improvement.

Our services included:

  • Four facilitated workshops with Iowa DOT’s executive leadership team (ELT).
  • Executive coaching and organizational performance training.
  • Strategic direction, values, and vision development.
  • Framework for achieving a five-year picture in one-year, quarterly, and biweekly segments.
  • Implementation approach and tools.
  • Roadmap for change management and communications.
  • Five-year business plan production.

Confirming core values and strategic objectives for the Iowa DOT was essential. Our team worked with the ELT to formulate five high-priority strategic goals to focus on in the five- to 10-year horizon. The direction captured in the business plan is a clear, outcome-oriented five-year business plan.

The plan guides positive change at every level. Its structure ensures a balance of effort between customer service delivery, operations, and resources. It supports the need to continuously communicate strategic direction and improve internal operations of the organization to meet the DOT’s purpose.

The plan looked at strategic management efficiencies built on enhanced systems, processes, and controls within the organization to ensure strategic, future-looking actions are integrated with day-to-day activities.

Implementation of the plan requires defining lead and support roles and providing individual goal setting and performance reviews. All Iowa DOT bureaus act on 90-Day “Rocks” to achieve 1-year objectives and support the agency’s vision. Action plans are developed to ensure that the plan’s implementation is progressing and being regularly reviewed.

Key Features

The strategic plan’s goal was to guide Iowa DOT leadership by redeveloping strategic direction, developing an unprecedented business plan, and providing a transformation roadmap for alignment, communication, change, and improvement.

Iowa DOT’s 2022 goals include:

  1. Deploying proactive traffic management.
  2. Improving work zone safety.
  3. Enhancing the project delivery cycle.
  4. Training all employees in customer service principles.
  5. Remodeling the external DOT website.
  6. Creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture.

Each year of the business plan, objectives are assessed, and new or refined objectives are set for the next year that drives the DOT toward the five-year picture and priority goals. The business plan is updated every two years, derived from the five-year picture, with one-year objectives of three to seven items to accomplish annually.

Awards & Recognition

  • Awards listed here. THIS ROW IS HIDDEN.


2021 was the first year of the new Iowa DOT 2021-2025 strategic plan. Leadership set five objectives for the year to forward the plan’s goals:

  1. Reduce fatalities to under 300.
  2. Update organizational structure and HR business practices to align with organizational strategies.
  3. Implement new customer feedback programs.
  4. Reimagine technology investment.
  5. Implement forward-thinking business measures.
Downtown Des Moines skyline with light trails at sunset.


Iowa Department of Transportation


State of Iowa


Strategic Planning

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